By Josh Veltrie
It seems every student who is a sports fan has asked the same question at some point during his or her time here at Rider: Why doesn’t Rider have a football team? And at first, most people think Rider should try to get one started because if you have been to a college football game, you know there is nothing quite like it. But those games that are a lot of fun to go to are usually high-profile, Division I-A football programs that takes hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of dollars to create. Not to mention successful programs are not built overnight unless it is Nick Saban, who turned around a mediocre Alabama team in a year, but Alabama was also a history-rich program that has been around for decades.
If Rider did attempt to get a football team, it would most likely be a mediocre to poor Division I-AA program. There are all kinds of rules and regulations that make programs Division I-A, but for people who are not familiar with college football Division I-A is the highest a program can be. Division I-AA is like a lower tier of college football, a step up from Division II. But that means Rider would not have a program like a Penn State or even like Syracuse. Marist, which is in the same conference as Rider in almost every sport, has a football program which is Division I-AA and it does not come close to the same atmosphere as a legitimate Division I-A program.
Students also need to account for the fact that sometimes Alumni Gym doesn’t even get filled up all the way for a home game and that the men’s basketball team has had the most successful three-year period ever at Rider. So, out of the 5,000 or so students that attend Rider, how many would go to a football game, and would people from the area come to fill up the stadium that would cost a ton of money to build? Then the school would need to build new facilities for the football team to lift and train in, hire a slew of coaches and assistant coaches and trainers, plus the scholarships Rider would have to give out would probably be more than the rest of the sports programs here combined right now.
So although having a football program would be really cool and draw fans, the games people see on television are usually the high-profile, successful programs at larger universities that are able to pull it off. It is not worth it to start a football team at a relatively small, mid-major university such as Rider.